Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India's Ancient River
Beyond the dense urbanism of Mumbai (Bombay) or the IT centers of Bangalore and Hyderabad lies the Ganges River basin--today home to over one-quarter of India's billion-plus population--a space historically defined by a mythological constellation of terrestrial sites imbued with celestial significance. Not only is it one of the most densely populated river basins in the world, but it also undergoes dramatic physical changes with the onslaught of the wet monsoon, where over one-meter of rainfall occurs in the span of three months.
This book focuses on the intersection of these two observations. It is an atlas of built and unbuilt projects designed to transform the river into a giant water machine.
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, this mythical watercourse has functioned as a laboratory to test and build a new civilization around the culture of water. Jointly authored by people and nature, the Ganges River is today a monstrous water machine in which the entire basin became a workshop of human-made experience, defined by a hydrological system best described as a supersurface: a surface engineered from the scale of the soil to the scale of the nation. Everything from diffuse urban projects and green revolutions to colossal public works programs and architectural transformations constitute the genesis of the Ganges Water Machine. Whether to thwart massive peasant uprisings or to redirect monsoonal rains to productive ends, never before has a river that inspired the realization of unbelievable architectural and infrastructural projects received as little scrutiny as the Ganges river basin.
Reaching through the very heart of some of India s most densely populated cities, small towns, industrial zones, sacred sites, and mountainous forests, Ganges Water Machine by Anthony Acciavatti, composed of eight years of field and archival research, explores and theorizes the people and infrastructures that shaped this territory. Ganges Water Machine is an atlas of the enterprise to make the Ganges River basin into a highly engineered landscape: it reveals the narratives and explanations that allowed engineers and planners to realize fantasies previously only imaginable on paper or in myth.
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